Mark Boucher, a former South African test player and coach, discusses the 2024 Test Series in New Zealand and expresses his dissatisfaction with Cricket South Africa (CSA).
In an exclusive interview with SportsBoom, a sports news platform, Boucher criticised the CSA for what he considers to be inequitable scheduling, drawing particular attention to the way other major cricketing nations prioritise Test cricket.
“I'll be honest with you, I am extremely disappointed. It's got nothing to do with the players. You can't blame the players that have been selected or the players that are not going. I think the scheduling needs to be really looked at by CSA; I don't think it's acceptable."
“Considering that the SA20 has a specific window in the first week of January and is running for the second year, the CSA could have discussed with New Zealand Cricket earlier to explore the possibility of scheduling the test series in a different time frame.”
Boucher said he expected CSA to ensure that the two best teams from each country are playing against each other in the Test series.
“If I were New Zealand cricket, I'd be quite disappointed. I understand them not wanting to pull out as well because the World Test Championship points are at stake. But I do think that we in South Africa need to sit down, have a hard look at ourselves at the scheduling, and find a way to make it right,” said Boucher.
While acknowledging the financial benefits of the SA20 league that will help the South African board and cricket in the long run, Boucher stressed the need for a balance that doesn't compromise the Test series against formidable teams like New Zealand.
“SA20 is good for the public to watch. It is very well supported, but we can't have that in place of a Test series against a very, very strong New Zealand team away from home. So as a former player, and I know I'm not alone, there're probably a lot of guys who would probably speak about it as passionately as me as well, emphasised Boucher.
After a couple of false starts to set up a franchise-based T20 league in South Africa, Cricket South Africa (CSA) launched the SA20, a Twenty20 franchise cricket tournament, in 2023.
The 2024 edition of SA20 lasts for a month, starting on January 10, 2024. At the same time, South Africa is scheduled to play two Test matches in New Zealand starting on February 4, 2024.
Due to the clash in event dates, CSA has announced a second-string team to tour New Zealand for the Test series. The priority is to ensure player participation in SA20.
The South Africa Test squad includes seven uncapped players, and it will be captained by Neil Brand, who has not yet made an international appearance.
This decision has sparked controversy within the cricketing community, reigniting the debate on preserving Test cricket as a format. Former Australian captain Steve Waugh believes that it also demonstrates a lack of respect for New Zealand cricket.